skip to Main Content


A Sermon in Song based on the Hymn:

Dear Lord and Father of Mankind



“From a poetic tempest into lyric sunshine” is the title used by H. Augustine Smith in Lyric Religion (1931) to introduce his story of the hymn Dear Lord and Father of Mankind. He later says, “This poem has been well described as a poetical thunderstorm.”

“The Brewing of Soma,” a seventeen stanza narrative poem by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892), known as America’s Quaker poet, was published in the Atlantic Monthly, April 1872. The poem describes Hindu priests going into the forest and drinking themselves into a stupor with a concoction called soma. After graphically setting the scene of non-Christian worship, the poet brings his accusation down to his own day and time with this eleventh stanza:

And yet the past comes round again,
And new doth old fulfill;
In sensual transports wild as vain
We brew in many a Christian fane [church] The heathen Soma still!

After these eleven stanzas, Whittier contrasts practices of modern Christians with these pagan rites. In the concluding six stanzas of the original poem he gives the world a most reverent and beautiful prayer for a true worship experience beginning with: “Dear Lord, and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways.” Some early hymnbooks (Methodist Hymnal 1905) have “forgive our feverish ways.” A plea is made for a return to a simple trust in God. The closing stanzas emphasize the peaceful aspects of the Gospel in the quietness of true Christianity. The hymn is a prayer for a quiet heart nurtured by true worship experiences. The words picture the deep-settled quietness which real trust brings. With these words Whittier conveys his hunger for practical moral action and confidence in God as our Father.


Now we will emphasize several phrases in the hymn with songs and scriptures. After each song title I have given the part of the verse that supports the idea. As you choose from the songs listed, you may sing the entire song or just the pertinent verse.



 This is a prayer for spiritual sanity instead of religious madness. The poet seems to have in mind the story of the Gadarene demoniac, a wild and raving lunatic who, healed by Jesus, was found to be “clothed and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15).

Henry Gariepy in Songs in the Night (1996) writes: “In protest against the busyness and confusion of this world and the frenzied rituals and foolish rites of his day [Whittier] penned the stanzas that are among the most pure and beautiful hymns of Christendom. … In our fast-paced and confused world, more than ever we need the stillness and the quiet spaces of time to which these words call us. … Let this hymn, born out of the poet’s protest, express our longing for God’s presence and peace within our souls. We too need forgiveness for foolish ways. We too need purer lives and deeper reverence. We too need the beauty of His peace to replace our strivings, strain and stress. May we find these blessings in the quietness of prayer and in the secret of His presence.”

 Isa. 26:3 – “[God] will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”

Mk. 12:30 – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

Rom. 8:6 – “the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”

Rom. 12:2 – “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

2 Cor. 13:11 – “Finally, brothers … be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.”



Purer Yet and Purer

Purer in Heart, O God

Ps 24:3-4 – “ Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart”

Ps 51:10 – “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Ps 73:1 – “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.”

Mt 5:8 – “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”



It is in purer lives that his service is truly expressed, not in ceremonial acts but in deeper reverence for God.

I Am Thine, O Lord – “Consecrate me now to Thy service Lord”

Love Lifted Me – “Faithful loving service too, to Him belong”

O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee – “in lowly paths of service free”

When We All Get To Heaven – “Let us then be true and faithful, trusting, serving every day”

Rom. 12:1 – “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Rom. 15:17 – “Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God”

1 Cor. 12:4-5 – “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord”

2 Cor. 8:1-5 – “Now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.”

2 Cor. 9:10-13 – “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.”

Rev. 2:18-19 – “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: … I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first”



All Praise to Him Who Reigns Above (Blessed be the Name)

Blessed Assurancepraising my Savior all the day long”

Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah – “songs of praises I will ever sing to Thee”

Stepping in the Light – “happy our praises each day”

Yield Not to Temptation – “God’s name hold in reverence”

Lev 19:30 – “Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the LORD.”

Ps 5:7 – “I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple.”

Heb 12:28 – “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”



Simply Trusting

Sweet Hour of Prayer – “trust His grace”

Unto the Hills

Wonderful Love of Jesus – “my trust for lifting when I fall”

Ps 9:10 – “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

Ps 13:5 – “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.”

Ps 31:14 – “But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’”

Ps 62:8 – “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”

Ps 143:8 – “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”

John 14:1 – “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”

Heb 2:13 – “I will put my trust in him.”



Children of the Heavenly King – “Trust that we still may follow thee”

Jesus Calls Us – “saying Christian, follow me”

Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken – “to follow Thee”

Step by Step – “I will follow you all of my days”

Mt 10:38 – “anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

1 Peter 2:21 – “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”

Ps 119:33 – “Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end.”

Ps 119:166 – “I wait for your salvation, O LORD, and I follow your commands.”



Only In Thee – “dwelleth my soul in peace divine”

Peace, Perfect Peace

Prince of Peace, Control my Will

There is Rest, Sweet Rest – “there is perfect peace”

Ps 4:8 – “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”

Ps 29:11 – “The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.”

Ps 119:165 – “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.”

Isa 32:17 – “The fruit of righteousness will be peace.”

Rom. 14:19 – “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”



Sermon in Song prepared by Paul Brown (1929-2017)

Back To Top